EdFringe 2021 Review: Bromance ★★★★

Bromance from Barely Methodical Troupe sees three skilled gymnasts Adam Fullick, Peter Shirley, and Arthur Parsons present a full array of acrobatic spectacle, whilst delving into the concept of male companionship. The project created by Beren D’Amico, Louis Gift and Charlie Wheeller, is in collaboration with director Eddie Kay and pitches up in Assembly George Square Gardens – Spiegeltent Palais Du Variete for the month.

Adam, Peter (‘Peewee’) and Arthur deliver a mix of personal chemistry and circus style humour paired with skills in parkour, b-boying, tricking, hand-to-hand acrobatics, and cyr wheel gymnastics. They set out to explore the power of a handshake and the connections that could stem from one using a mix of acrobatics and physical theatre, crafting a circus style show with a surprising level of depth.

Opening with the sound of a documentary/news segment discussing the various types of handshakes and their supposed meaning, Bromance introduces us to our three stars in an opening routine which sees them navigating the conventional handshake. Using this as an opportunity to provide some circus silliness in exploring the performers’ staged lack of awareness of a basic handshake, Bromance soon segways into a linked three-acrobat gymnastic routine. It’s clear that this subtext on human connection and physical contact gains an added unintentional resonance due to our current global pandemic climate.

Whilst the moments of silliness mostly operated by Peewee were certainly a hit with laughing younger audiences – from bum-slapping to armpit sniffing – they prove slightly too juvenile for adult audiences. However, Bromance successfully caters to these viewers by impressing in its loose narrative (largely delivered without speech) and the thematic depth found in the exchanges between the three artists. There is a natural spark and apparent camaraderie between the three performers, relying on their own bromance/relationships for the success of the countless acrobatic routines.

A paired routine involving Adam and Arthur has an impressive poignancy captured through their elegant movements, whilst Peewee’s strong theatrics on the cyr wheel are sublimely orchestrated. Routines involving all three performers utilising chairs or forming themselves into a human tower shine as incredible feats of human physicality. Well-chosen soundtracks help elevate the routines whilst enhancing the emotional tone of Bromance, whilst lighter moments including a routine to Tone Lōc’s anthem Wild Thing ensures that this tone is not always pensive and the humour does not solely rely on bum-slapping.

Bromance’s blend of circus, sketch and acrobatics layered with a sense of emotional depth presents an intriguing and amusing glimpse into the concept of the close bonds between men. The odd moment verges slightly more into homoerotic territory than ‘bromantic’ such as the stripping down into matching red underwear for the impressive finale or handshakes that lead to near face-to-face contact – however, this could be a musing centred around the thin line between bromance and romance. We’re glad it happened nonetheless.

It is worth noting that quite a lot of the routines involve movements that take place lower on the floor, so try making sure you have a good seat to allow full visibility.

Bromance is filled to the brim with gymnastic spectacle from its trio of charismatic artists. These feats of acrobatic excellence are heightened by some well-pitched emotional depth and lightly humorous moments peppered throughout.

Bromance runs from the 3rd to the 29th of August in the Assembly George Square as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Get tickets here.